FIFA World Cup 2022 | We should prepare for what is coming, we have to win, says a dejected Messi

“Now, we have to show that this is a real group,” said the Argentine captain, who was at the receiving end of one of the greatest World Cup upsets

November 22, 2022 10:06 pm | Updated 10:07 pm IST

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, left, and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulelha Al-Malki, fight for the ball during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar on November 22, 2022.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, left, and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulelha Al-Malki, fight for the ball during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar on November 22, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

After being rudely jolted from his ‘happy’ dreams of enjoying the World Cup, a ghostly Lionel Messi, with life sucked out of him after 55-minutes of second-half nightmare, had very little energy to answer the probing questions of the world press.

“There are no excuses. We must be more united than ever. This group is strong, but it’s a situation we haven’t gone through in a long time. Now, we have to show that this is a real group,” said the Argentine captain, who was at the receiving end of one of the greatest World Cup upsets. “It’s a very hard blow for everyone, we didn’t expect to start like this. Things happen for a reason. We should prepare for what’s coming; we have to win, and it depends on us.”

An equally dejected Lionel Scaloni, the Argentine manager, found it difficult to comprehend the whirlwind five second-half minutes that altered the course of the game. “It’s hard to understand because in five minutes they scored the two goals, the only shots on target. We don’t have any other choice but to get up and continue, we have to win the two remaining games. It’s a sad day but we must keep our head up and keep going,” he said.

“The first half was all ours. If any of the offsides had been a goal... a goal can change things. Saudi Arabia’s line is advanced and some offsides were millimetres but that’s what technology is for. They gave us one and then took the rest away,” a philosophical Scaloni added.

Argentina, which claimed to have arrived at this tournament surrounded by tranquilito (calmness), now, suddenly must weather a storm. “They are hurt and thinking about the result and (how) to turn the situation around. We were doing well. We couldn’t have come better. But these tournaments don’t give you time to be wrong,” said Scaloni.

“If we had won, we would also think about Mexico. The result doesn’t change the analysis.”

For Saudi Arabia’s coach Herve Renard, the celebration would be short despite the unbelievable result.

“Have a good celebration for 20 minutes and that’s it,” he said.

“We made history for Saudi football. It will stay forever. This is the most important thing, but we also need to think about looking forward because we still have two very difficult games.”

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